DECIDING to walk across Mt Eden Rd during the morning rush hour had lifechanging consequences for Michelle Van Eeden.
The 49-year-old was hit by a car on January 25, 2013 while waiting for a break in the traffic.
If she’d walked to the pedestrian crossing at the traffic lights she might have been late for work at the Unichem Chemist. Instead, she ventured to the centre line where she was struck by a right turning vehicle.
‘‘I’ve gone over and over it and where I was standing was the worst place I could have been.
‘‘In hindsight I think why did I walk that far up? But you never think about that sort of thing at the time.’’
The impact shattered the T11 vertebrae in her spine and she was lucky not to be paralysed.
But doctors couldn’t operate straight away because of the swelling.
‘‘I was lying on my back without being able to move for a week. It was my worst nightmare,’’ she says.
She eventually had two ribs removed so that doctors could insert titanium plates into her back.
Regaining consciousness after the operation was worse than the collision itself, she says.
‘‘I was screaming. I was in so much pain. I was lying in the recovery room for hours. Even though I was on huge amounts of morphine they couldn’t get the pain under control.’’
She was discharged two and a half weeks later but quickly re-admitted because she still required massive amounts of pain relief.
But there was more to come. Almost a year later, on January 23, she had to have another operation.
Van Eeden is usually a positive sort of person but having to go through surgery again was tough.
‘‘When I got
I suffered from quite bad depression for a few weeks. It was like, here I am again stuck in this bed when I want to be at work.’’
She still can’t stand for long periods and has been told it could be another year before she is well enough to return to fulltime work.
She volunteers at the road safety charity Brake and is keen for people to learn from her experience.
‘‘Part of the healing process for me is saying to people think before you jaywalk. Everybody’s too busy to go and walk that little bit further to get to the pedestrian crossing – but why take that risk?’’
Lasting effects: Michelle Van Eeden was hit by a car in Mt Eden in January 2013 and is yet to fully recover.
Crash site: Michelle Van Eeden was standing on the centre line in front of Unichem Chemist when the crash occurred.